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Percept Mot Skills. 2006 Oct;103(2):427-46.

Digit ratio (2D:4D), lateral preferences, and performance in fencing.

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  • 1Department of Basic Psychological Research, School of Psychology, University of Vienna, Liebiggasse 5, Rm 03-42, A-1010 Vienna, Austria. martin.voracek@univie.ac.at


The second to fourth digit ratio (2D:4D) is a sexually dimorphic trait (men tend to have lower values than women) and a likely biomarker for the organizational (permanent) effects of prenatal androgens on the human brain and body. Prenatal testosterone, as reflected by 2D:4D, has many extragenital effects, including its relevance for the formation of an efficient cardiovascular system. Previous research, reviewed here, has therefore investigated possible associations of 2D:4D with sport performance. Several studies found more masculinized digit ratio patterns (low 2D:4D values or a negative right-minus-left difference in 2D:4D) to be related to high performance in running, soccer, and skiing. The present research tested this hypothesis in a sample of 54 tournament fencers, predominantly from Austria. For men, negative right-left differences in 2D:4D corresponded significantly to better current as well as highest national fencing rankings, independent of training intensity and fencing experience. The mean 2D:4D values of these fencers were significantly lower and the proportion of left-handers was elevated relative to the local general population. For the right hand, the ratio was somewhat lower in male sabre fencers than in male epée and foil fencers combined and significantly lower in left-handed compared to right-handed fencers. Although nonsignificant due to low statistical power, effect sizes suggested that crossed versus congruent hand-eye and hand-foot preferences might also be related to fencing performance. The present findings add to the evidence that 2D:4D might be a performance indicator for men across a variety of sports.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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